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Hunger Awareness Dinner #5: Green chile chicken enchiladas, corn pudding & cinnamon pear sorbet

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I have had such an incredible eye-opening week during this Hunger Awareness project.  I’ve closed this week with one of my favorite meals – green chile enchiladas.  Normally, I make them with vegetables, but I am almost out of vegetables (down to beets and some lettuce) and I wanted to use the rest of the chicken I had roasted earlier in the week.

I decided to tackle my canned goods with this meal as well.  I paired the enchiladas with a corn pudding that used the canned corn and I made a cinnamon pear sorbet with the canned pears.  I added a green salad with roasted beets because I always find myself wanting something green in the meal.

The dinner was very flavorful.  I love the H-E-B green enchilada sauce and it’s inexpensive.  The corn pudding makes about 10 servings and makes a good alternative to the traditional beans and rice.  I like this recipe because it was mostly corn, eggs and milk with less sugar and flour than many of the recipes I found.  I didn’t have an onion so I substituted with roasted poblano peppers.

And, since I was tackling the cans, I decided to tackle the pears too.  I don’t like canned pears – they are mushy and mealy – so I wanted to find a recipe in which their consistency wouldn’t matter.  I went with sorbet.  I needed to keep it simple so I used cinnamon as my spice.

When I shopped for my pantry list, I found pears in heavy syrup, light syrup and pear juice.  Since I got to pick, I bought the pears in juice. I know others don’t get to pick, but you could use any of the pears in this recipe, you would just use less of the liquid, if any to sweeten the pears.  I wanted to keep it healthy so I didn’t add sugar and,  instead, used the pear juice from the cans. It may not have been as sweet as you might like, but you can add a little simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar melted together) to sweeten it up.

I was pretty pleased with how my mostly canned dinner turned out and it was a great way to end this adventure.  I learned many lessons during this challenge:

  • In my effort to create meals that could feed a family, I cooked way more in a week than one person could ever eat.  Five dinners later, my freezer is PACKED and I’m out of storage containers.  I didn’t cook my intended sixth meal of salmon croquettes and beet pancakes because if I did, I wouldn’t have any place to store it or anything to store it in.  I’ll cook it this week.
  • I bought too much protein and not enough vegetables with my “food stamp” allotment.  Again, I got so focused on making interesting meals family that I didn’t buy enough vegetables for me for the week.  
  • I will never eat the flavor packet in a “Helper” box again.  Next time, I’m winging it and making my own rather than eating that nasty MSG-ridden sauce.  Yuck.  I really hated that I wasted my yummy broccoli in that meal.  
  • I have quite a few things left in my pantry: 3/4 of the spaghetti, all of the oatmeal, 1/2 of the cheerios, 2/3 of the potatoes, 3/4 of the rice, 1 ham hock, 1 can of enchilada sauce, most of the juice, most of the jalapenos and 1/2 the cheese. And, of course all of the leftovers.
Here’s the cost of the final supper:
$ 1.75    1 cup of mozzarella cheese (for topping the enchiladas)
$ 3.00    1/2 the chicken
$   .45    10 corn tortillas
$   .99    1 can enchilada sauce
$   .25    part of a can of sliced jalapenos
$   .59    2 poblano peppers
$  1.89   3 cans of corn
$   .50    1 cup of milk
$   .67     4 eggs
$ 2.48     4 cans of pears
$12.57    Total
All in all, it was a great week.  I loved exploring recipes and be reminded of how blessed I am.  I hope you enjoyed the journey, just remember that it doesn’t end here.  It doesn’t end until we end hunger in Central Texas.  We have quite a bit of work to do.
from Bon Appetit April 2010 via
Note: I substituted 2 roasted poblano peppers instead of the onions so I also used one less tbsp of butter.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided, plus additional for dish
1 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 15- to 16-ounce cans corn kernels, drained, divided

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes; cool in skillet.

Whisk milk, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons butter in large bowl. Scrape in onion mixture. Add 2 cans drained corn. Puree remaining 1 can drained corn in processor until smooth. Add puree to bowl with custard mixture and stir to blend well; transfer to prepared dish.

Bake pudding until set in center and beginning to brown on top, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm.

50310_4Pear and Cinnamon Sorbet

4 cans of pears in their own juice (if you want sweeter, buy light or heavy syrup), reserve the juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Place the pears in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Slowly add juice from the cans while you continue to blend until you get a very smooth consistency.  You want it to be thinner than apple sauce.  I used about 1 1/2 cans.  Add cinnamon and blend again.

Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and follow the machine directions to process to the desired consistency.  If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can place the sorbet in a long pan to harden, remove and reprocess in the food processor and then refreeze. Repeat the process until you get the texture you desire.

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Pass the Pickled Peppers, Please

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Several of my friends have lamented in the last week about the plethora of peppers currently in their gardens. Fortunately, I was the recipient of some of this bounty, but it did get me thinking about what they could do to preserve the peppers.


I remembered a recipe my older sister Lee uses to pickle jalapenos. I was never a big fan of pickled jalapenos until I tasted these – they are delicious. I love adding them to black beans or migas to add great flavor. I think it’s the garlic that makes them particularly tasty. Lee even likes to use the liquid from the jar to marinate chicken.
Hmmm… I might have to buy some jalapenos this weekend at the market.
Be warned: if you are going to handle this many peppers, please wear gloves. You don’t want to find out the hard way how much the jalapeno oils burns.
Lee’s Jalapeno Pepper Pickles
about 1 lb of jalapenos per quart jar, washed and sliced into 1/4-1/3 inch rounds
1 cup vinegar, white or cider
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
4-5 cloves garlic
1 tsp pickling spice, Lee recommends the Central Market pickling spice from the bulk area
Pack peppers tightly in quart-sized pickling jars.
Heat mixture to boiling. Pour the mixture over the the peppers so they are covered. Lee suggests adding the garlic to the jar as well. Seal jars and put them in a hot water bath (1/2 to 3/4 height of the jar) and process 10 minutes; until the jars pop.
Let the jalapenos sit for at least 3 weeks to come to full flavor.
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Celebrating with Carrots (Soup)

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I’ve been fortunate this week to have many things to celebrate. I was thrilled and a little stunned to find Austin Farm to Table included in The Austin American-Statesman’s Texas Talkers list of their favorite local blogs. There are some pretty great bloggers on the list and it’s an honor to be included in their company. Thanks Statesman!

My other celebration was equally unexpected. When I decided to strike out on my own, I didn’t really think about the cooking benefits of being able to work from home. And, yet, twice this week, I’ve had a chance to put something on to simmer while I was working and have a nice lunch. Yea! No offense to Jimmy John’s and Chipotle (the default lunch places at my old office), but I’m pretty darn excited about this unplanned benefit of being my own boss.
I love soup, but with the unbearable heat we’ve had, I’ve been avoiding one of my favorite meals.
I made gazpacho earlier this summer, so I decided that it was time to try my hand at another cool soup and picked carrot. I wanted to do something different than the traditional ginger carrot soup and went instead with Cumin Lime. It was really delicious and a great foil to the 100 degree days earlier this week.
For my second dish, I chose to play with the okra I bought at the market last week. I love okra and will eat it just about any way you can cook it. A friend of mine shared that he had roasted okra at a recent dinner party and I decided to give it a whirl. I wanted to spice it up a little bit, so I mixed in some Bellaverdi Farms mustard microgreens at the end to give it some punch. I may have a new summer lunch favorite.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Picnic in the Park on Wed 8/5. Come shop at the Triangle Farmers Market (open from 4-8 pm), then meet us on the lawn for dinner. Bring a blanket and/or folding chair and your beverages.
See you at the market!
073109_1Cumin Lime Carrot Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bunches of carrots, trimmed, peeled & chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin (you can increase this if you like a stronger flavor; I did)
salt & pepper to taste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups of water; 1 cup reserved
juice of 2 limes
2 tbsps sour cream
cilantro, chopped for garnish (I forgot cilantro so my photo is missing a garnish. It would have been really good with the cilantro….)
Heat the olive oil in a pot. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are just tender.
Stir in the cumin, salt and pepper and taste one of the carrots to have the spice level you want. The spice should be on the strong side because you will dilute it when you add the liquid.
Add the 4 cups of broth and one cup of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
Let the mixture cool. Transfer half of the soup to a food processor or blender and puree the mixture. Transfer that half to a bowl and puree the other half. I do suggest using a food processor or blender for this as it is difficult to get the mixture smooth enough using a hand blender.
Stir in the lime juice and taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed. If necessary, add water slowly to
thin the mixture.
Place in the refrigerator for several hours (at least 4) or overnight to chill.
Before serving, take the sour cream out of the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature. Stir it into the soup to give it some creaminess. Garnish the soup with cilantro and lime.

Roasted Okra with Mustard Microgreens
1 lb okra, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (don’t cut it too early; the longer it sits cut, the
073109_2slimier it gets)
1 1/2 tbsps olive oil, 1/2 tbsp reserved
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 package of mustard microgreens
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place okra in a pan an drizzle with olive oil. Salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring once.
In the last minute of cooking, stir in the mustard microgreens and drizzle with the 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Roast for another minute so that the microgreens are just wilted.
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Next Food Network Star: Brussels Sprouts Hash

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I believe I have firmly established my addiction to cooking competition tv shows. Whether it’s Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Chopped, or Food Network Star, I watch almost all of them (not Hell’s Kitchen – too much yelling.) I even watched the terrible show with Marco Pierre White for the few weeks it was on the air.

I’m frequently intrigued by some idea or other, after all Top Chef inspired the idea for the pho with the Daikon radish noodles. However, I am not usually moved to make one of their recipes verbatim.

Imagine my surprise when I became obsessed with Eddie Gilbert’s (Next Food Network Star) Brussels Sprouts Hash recipe. Maybe it was the way the judges kept mentioning how good it was. Whatever sparked the fire, I just had to make it and fortunately there are still Brussels
Sprouts at the market.

I didn’t follow Eddie’s Steak recipe or make the chutney, but I’m sure they were probably great as well. (For his complete recipe, click the link of the recipe title.)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tennessee Drunken Braised Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Hash

(Adapted from a larger recipe from Eddie Gilbert from the TV show Next Food Network Star)
8 strips bacon, diced
3 medium shallots, chopped
2 leeks, white and light green part only, finely chopped
4 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, outer peels removed, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 bottles Jamaican lager, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

062709_1Heat a grill or grill pan to medium.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until the edges start to crisp up but not fully cooked. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and drain. Reserve the bacon fat in the skillet.

Meanwhile, in another skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add half the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the leeks, scallions, and Brussels sprouts. Cook until the vegetables begin to wilt and soften. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add about 6 ounces lager, so that half of this hash mixture is covered by liquid. Bring the hash to a simmer and reduce until almost all the liquid is gone. Add the bacon, 1 more tablespoon of butter and reduce the heat to low, cooking the bacon further, and stirring the hash occasionally.

To the vegetable hash, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons butter, about 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat, and both the whole-grain and Dijon mustard and saute a few minutes more. Adjust seasoning, to taste.

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